Dell XPS M1730 - Update review
Fantastic performance and almost impeccable ergonomics, but the high price means its for gamers with deep pockets only.
Review Date: 18 Aug 2008
Reviewed By: Mike Jennings
Price when reviewed: (£2,099 inc VAT)
Dell's high-end desktop replacement, the XPS M1730, has occupied a well-deserved spot on our A List for six months and, on the outside at least, this new model doesn't appear to have altered the winning formula. The familiar gun-metal texturing still covers the wrist-rest, there are still garish, coloured lights on the lid, and the two beefy speakers at the front of the thick base still pump out bright light as well as impressive sound.
A quick look at the specifications, though, reveal that Dell has forgone updating the M1730's looks, and instead concentrated on increasing the amount of power crammed into this machine.
Where before there was a 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 processor, there's now a more powerful 2.5GHz Core 2 Duo T8100, and there's now 4GB of RAM compared to 2GB. The storage has also increased, this time from a single 250GB drive to a two 200GB disks in a high performance, 400GB RAID 0 array.
Plenty of mod-cons are still included: there's Bluetooth, draft-n wireless, a card reader and a good selection of ports and sockets scattered around the sizeable chassis.
These changes have a hugely impressive affect on performance. In our 2D benchmarks the M1730 - which originally scored 1.06 in our tests - now delivered a lightning-quick result of 1.3. That's more than enough to scythe through the most demanding of desktop applications.
It's undoubtedly a quick result, but several other desktop replacements still manage to be faster. The HP Pavilion HDX9320EA, for instance, hit a slightly speedier 1.36, and the Alienware Area-51 m15x - which, it's worth bearing in mind, is a 15.4in notebook - scored a staggering 1.48.
The other main area that has seen an improvement is the XPS M1730's graphics setup. The old pair of GeForce 8700 GS chips running in SLI have been replaced by a couple of far more powerful GeForce 8800M GTX parts that are, again, running in an SLI configuration.
As we expected, gaming performance far outstrips that of the previous XPS M1730 and its various desktop replacement rivals. In our medium Crysis benchmark, the Dell hit 50fps - 15fps more than the 8800M GTS-equipped HP Pavilion - and, thanks to the SLI arrangement, performance was even more impressive when we ramped up the quality and detail settings.
At high quality settings and a resolution of 1,280 x 1,024 the XPS produced a remarkable 39fps, and still managed a very playable 29fps when the quality was increased to its maximum settings. Frame rates only dropped below playable levels when we tried to play Crysis at 1,600 x 1,200 with high quality settings, when the Dell dipped to 22fps. Quite simply, it's the most powerful gaming laptop we've ever seen.
Ergonomically, the XPS M1730 is unchanged. The 17in screen is still excellent - bright and sharp enough to enjoy regular gaming sessions - and the keyboard is of the usual high standard. Keys offer plenty of travel, and it's always pleasing to see a full-size keyboard, complete with number pad, on a laptop.
The trackpad is responsive and easy to use, and our only qualms are minor: the buttons feel slightly cheap, and the trackpad is a mite too small for our liking. But given that you'll be using a USB mouse for gaming anyway, it won't be an issue most of the time anyway.
The speakers aren't bad, either. They're not quite as loud as those on the Acer Aspire 8920G, perhaps, but still perfectly respectable.
- Samsung tempts the selfie market with A5 and A3 smartphones
- Internet tax: what it is and why it failed
- Android co-founder Andy Rubin leaves Google
- Windows 10 trackpad shortcuts: Microsoft takes a leaf out of Apple's book
- Promo: Using IBM BlueMix to create successful business apps
- Why the Microsoft Band could be a game changer
- What's on this week's PC Pro podcast?
- Microsoft Office 16 set to launch late next year
- HP's vision for the future of PCs: the 3D Sprout
- How Google X plans to detect cancer and heart disease using nano-magnets
- Google Glass: mugger bait, pub problem and other lessons learned from two dangerous weeks
- Twitter, please don't fiddle with my feed
- How Satya Nadella can get some pay-raise karma
- Windows 10: a step back to go forward
- Michael Dell: Cloud infrastructure is the roads, bridges and highways of the 21st century
- How to check your identity hasn’t been sold to the hackers
- Tim Cook: this is how much TV has changed since the 70s
- Westminster wins the .London battle
- 20 years of PC Pro: from deep pan pizza to virtualisation
- Five reasons why the Apple Watch leaves me cold
- Five smartwatch features we’ll see by 2015
- How to wipe an Android phone or tablet
- iPad Air 2 vs Nexus 9: Apple and Google's latest high-end tablets compared
- Five things that are actually new in the iPad Air 2
- Bendgate, Antennagate, and why Apple doesn’t care about bad news
- iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 release date, specs and UK price rumours
- Office Online vs Google Docs: which free online office suite is best?
- iPhone 6 Plus vs iPhone 6 design comparison
- How to speed up an Android smartphone
- Nexus 6 release date, specs, UK price and leaked images
- How to sell more ebooks on Amazon
- 10 ways to make your business more secure
- Top five VoIP mistakes
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office